I slipped into the back row. I drew a few stares and glares. I had no idea what I looked like but I knew it couldn’t be good.
The lights were low and a band played music on the stage. This didn’t look like any church I ever heard of. And I liked it.
People started clapping and raising their hands. They actually seemed excited to be there. I never thought of church as exciting. Could I have been wrong?
After the music ended the pastor, or who I assumed to be the pastor, got on stage and started speaking.
I can’t even explain what began to happen but it seemed like something woke up inside of me. I felt excited and something else I hadn’t felt since I sat on those porch steps all those years ago: hope.
The pastor spoke with such passion, to the point of even crying himself. He seemed real and I always pictured pastors as fake. But something was different with him. He seemed to genuinely love the people he was speaking to and he believed his message.
I wanted to believe as well. I wanted to believe I was loved.
I left that service feeling almost new, like anything was possible.
I decided I would go back the next week. I did and I kept going back. I was hungry for love and I was finding it in the pastors teaching.
After a few weeks of attending services a man approached me. I had managed to stay away from all men since I walked into the church. I decided I really was going to be different.
He introduced himself to me and asked me how long I had been attending. He seemed to really care about me and not what I could do for him.
The next Sunday he sat beside me and we talked some more after service.
I did take notice that he didn’t wear a wedding ring. Bonus! Could I actually have a real relationship with a man who cared about me?
He asked if I wanted to go out for lunch and I agreed.
It was so nice to sit and talk with a man and him not expect anything else from me. I felt valued, special.
We started to have these lunch dates for a few weeks. Each time we met I opened up to him more. I shared my history and he just took my hand and told me it didn’t matter. That he was falling in love with me.
The only part of our time together that bothered me was when he talked about the pastor. Apparently, this man, who I’ll call Jim, was very connected with the church and had been for many years. He didn’t like the direction the church was going at all and was hoping to get rid of the pastor soon.
Deep inside I questioned this because the pastor seemed to be speaking truth. But maybe I was wrong, I was new to this whole church thing. And Jim seemed so wise, he must know what he’s talking about.
He asked me to go on an actual date one night. Of course I said yes.
At the end of the evening he walked me to my door and kissed me. I knew I needed to be careful but before I knew it I invited him in and you can imagine what happened.
Afterwards guilt washed over me. Even worse than the past. I wasn’t different, I was the same woman I had always been, giving into my passion. Why couldn’t I be stronger?
As I started to tell this to Jim he dropped a bomb on me.
He was married.
His wife had been out of town for a few months taking care of her sick father but was headed home.
My heart broke. How could this be? I was so sure Jim really cared, that he was honest.
He told me the marriage was pretty much over and he still wanted to see me. He told me I had nothing to feel guilty about. But I didn’t believe him.
Yet, I couldn’t walk away. I loved him and would wait for his marriage to be over and then we would be together and make it all right.
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves.
Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master. Genesis 4:7